Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator Clark Lea Describes Alabama's "Unique" Offense

Lea stated that the Crimson Tide's strength on offense begins at the offensive line
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Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea and his Fighting Irish defense have had to face some challenging offenses this season.

Playing in the ACC due to COVID-19, Lea had to prepare his defense to face off against Clemson not once, but twice. While Notre Dame was able to overcome the Tigers in their first matchup, it still allowed them to score 40 points in its first meeting and then 34 in the ACC Championship Game.

Now, Lea and the Fighting Irish are gearing up to take on arguably the nation's top offense in Alabama this Friday in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl.

During his availability with the media on Tuesday morning, Lea stated that while Alabama will be a challenge, his team's matchups with Clemson have somewhat prepared them for the Crimson Tide.

"Schematically, we've seen variations of what they do," Lea said. "I think every opponent we play is in some way unique. Obviously I think the Clemson offense is a highly skilled outfit that has multiple ways to move the ball and multiple ways to find explosive plays. So, from a personnel standpoint, there are similarities there.

"But every offense is uniquely itself, and Coach [Steve] Sarkisian does a great job. It's not just about, for them, about their players. I mean, he does a very smart job in designing scheme to create matchups and to create problems on defense. And then you combine that with the fact that they have like a really talented group."

On Monday, the Associated Press released its All-American selections for the 2020 season. On the first team, a total of six Alabama players were listed. The same players were listed Tuesday morning as Sporting News' All-Americans.

Among those six players were Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and center Landon Dickerson. While Dickerson will be out for the rest of the season due to a leg injury suffered in the SEC Championship Game, the Alabama offensive line unit is still one of the best in the country.

According to Lea, Alabama's strength at the offensive line is where Notre Dame will face its greatest challenge.

"I think it starts in the O line," Lea said. "There's a toughness there and a physical approach that we have to match and exceed in our game and our style. And then they have skill at every position outside the O line. And it's going to force you to win in coverage, to win your one-on-ones. And they've got a quarterback that can deliver the ball. So there's a lot for us to have to work towards in terms of finding our success on the field.

"As far as defending an offense that's similar, I think we've seen parts and pieces through the year, but Alabama is unique just like every other team is unique. I wouldn't say it's any different in terms of our preparation."